Top Horror Films – #25 – The Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead
1985; directed by Dan O’Bannon; screenplay by Dan O’Bannon; story by Rudy Ricci, John A. Russo and Russell Streiner

John: My favorite zombie movie of all time. This movie is just a blast to watch, as punk rockers fight off indestructible, running zombies. It’s a shame Dan O’Bannon didn’t direct more after this, he keeps the pace fast and gets great performances from a cast of cult actors. Features one of the best soundtracks of the 80s to boot. Followed by many terrible sequels.

Ben: Written and directed by the late, great, Dan O’Bannon, Return of the Living Dead was originally conceived by Night of the Living Dead collaborators John Russo, Russ Steiner and Rudi Ricci to be a sort of serious-minded spin-off on George Romero’s classic film. Several lawsuits later, what we get instead is a classic comedy-meets-horror exercise in zombie fiction. The movie originally had director Tobe Hooper attached with O’Bannon on scripting chores, but after the film’s backers began having money issues Hooper became impatient and moved on to Lifeforce, another film scripted by O’Bannon. Dan O’Bannon has said in interviews that the movie he wrote was tailored to Hooper’s tastes and choices as a director, but clearly once O’Bannon took the director’s reigns he really put his unique stamp on it.

Starring in the film as one of the protagonists, Burt, is the legendary actor Clu Gulager. Most noted for his roles on the classic TV shows The Tall Man, as Billy the Kid, and The Virginian, which he joined in the third season as the local Sheriff, Gulager brings a certain charm and elegance to this downright dirty, punk-rock, undead escapade. The film is atmospheric, witty, and has surprisingly great effects for being 25 years old. Without a doubt Return of the Living Dead is a blast of a horror film that harkens back to the days when being scared was fun.

Team Rankings:
John – #2
Spencer – #15
Ben – #25


Brandi is one of those people who worries about kids these days not appreciating black and white films. She also admires great moments of subtlety, since she has no idea how to be subtle herself.

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